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Royal College of Art Research into Art and Conflict Published

The Royal College of Art has published Art and Conflict, a title that pulls together a year-long research enquiry exploring the extraordinary work of contemporary artists, activists and cultural organisations in the context of armed conflict, revolution and post-conflict.

Art and Conflict features specially commissioned essays by artist Jananne Al-Ani; Dr Bernadette Buckley from Goldsmiths, University of London; writer Malu Halasa; curator Jemima Montagu, co-director of the Culture+Conflict network; curator Sarah Rifky; artist Larissa Sansour; and Professor Charles Tripp from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Principal investigator, research leader, Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art Tutor and co-director of the Culture+Conflict network, Michaela Crimmin, introduces the Art and Conflict research inquiry and gives an overview of its findings. Two further articles by Crimmin and Buckley reflect on art and conflict in higher education in the UK.

The publication marks the culmination of a series of seminars exploring personal and collective aspects of armed conflict including memory, resistance, satire and resilience. Over the past year, the seminars have provided an open and discursive space for a range of perspectives and voices alternative to prevailing discourse, helping provoke debate, opening up conversations within the arts, and across sectors and disciplines.

Crimmin writes:

'However we try to define—or not define—the connections between art and conflict, destruction and war, the insights of artists are too interesting and too important to be denied more airing and debate than they presently receive. We found a recognition of the need for a more sustained, incremental knowledge base, with a growing number of people across a range of disciplines believing there is a strong case to be made for fostering a longer term, multidisciplinary, understanding of what it is that artists bring to the subject of conflict, and to amplify greatly the significant contribution artists are making.'

The Art and Conflict research enquiry will continue into the next phase, encompassing further meetings with artists, cultural theorists, historians, social anthropologists and others, providing a range of accounts of conflict, and ample opportunity for further discussion. There will be an international conference, and in the longer term the enquiry aims to complement the extraordinary work of the Delfina Foundation and Gasworks, facilitating the travel and connection of artists and curators, and supporting the production of new work.

Art and Conflict is published by Royal College of Art with the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Art and Conflict research enquiry was realised as a partnership with Index on Censorship, with additional support from the British Council, Culture+Conflict, the University of Manchester, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

A free download of the online edition of Art and Conflict is available here.